I know a lot of people that drive for a living. I did it myself for a short time. I’m in the “make money from home” niche so personally that type of work doesn’t interest me, but I understand that many people consider it the perfect job. Most of the drivers I’ve Ubered with were either students or retirees, although I’m sure there’s a mixed bag of people who enjoy this line of work. That’s all good and fine, but can you make money driving for Uber?
Headquarters: San Francisco, California
Founders: Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp
Areas served: 785 areas worldwide
Price to get started: Free as long as you have a car in working condition that is insured
Ideal for: Retirees, students, stay-at-home moms, artists, and people in between jobs
Headquartered in San Francisco, Uber has become a household name in the transportation industry with operations in 785 metropolitan areas worldwide, and boasting over 100 million users. That’s pretty astounding when you think about it. No one would dispute the fact that Uber is extremely convenient, especially when traveling.
Uber is able to keep rates affordable for riders due to the fact that drivers use their own cars as taxis. Unlike taxis, however, Uber is not a car-hailing service, but rather a car-for-hire service that leverages smartphone technology to request drivers, while taking care of payments electronically.
All you need is your iPhone or Android to get started. Uber can handily be accessed right from the Uber smartphone app. The app itself takes care of payment so there’s no need to fuss with payment transactions after your ride, which is an awesome time saver. Cash tips, however, are very much appreciated, although not mandatory.
Conversely, taxi drivers require a mandatory 15% tipping charge. Tips with Uber are much appreciated, but not required, and can be paid in cash or via the app. Interestingly, the word “Uber” translates to “super” in German. But how super is the company to work for?
Ride Sharing Services
Uber offers several riding services, each with its own pricing structure and vehicle requirements. Keep in mind, not all of these options are offered in every area, and there are even more options then the ones listed below, including UberKIDS and UberPETS, ride-friendly options for children and pets.
1. UberX: This is the most affordable mode of travel, and the option the majority of people use. You know those exorbitant taxi fares you pay when you travel? Well, you’ll save half by choosing UberX. UberX vehicles must have four doors in order to comfortably accommodate four riders, but are just your everyday vehicles.
2. UberPOOL: This option is great if you want to share your ride with someone else. You’ll save money because you’ll only pay half the fare.
3. UberXL: UberXL will cost you a little more, but can accommodate up to six riders. Drivers must have an SUV or van that comfortably fits several riders.
4. UberSUV: The SUV option accommodates up to six people. Drivers are required to drive an SUV.
5. UberSELECT: Accommodating four riders, drivers must have luxury four-door vehicles with upgraded interiors. If you choose this option, expect to ride in style, but at a premium price. Luxury cars, such as Mercedes, Lincolns, and BMWs are required.
6. UberBLACK: This top-notch service comes with the highest price tag. It is a limousine-type service.
7. UberWAV: This option accommodates the needs of people in wheelchairs, and is only available in a handful of cities. Drivers must be certified to assist the handicapped.
One source of consternation for Uber riders is the infamous surge pricing, in which fares exorbitantly increase during peak hours. While surge pricing is deleterious for riders, it is amazing for Uber drivers.
Perks Of Working For Uber
Driving for Uber offers flexibility in terms of when and how many hours you work. This is a huge plus whatever business you’re in. When driving as an independent contractor for Uber, you can choose what days you want to work without deciding in advance.
Got a couple unexpected free hours? Sign in on your smartphone app and wait for a request. No doubt about it, this is a great perk. Because your job is driving, there’s no need for an office. Your car will serve that purpose.
When I drove for Uber, I always made sure to have at least a 1/2 gallon of gas in my tank, and to be current on my service and oil changes. And of course, you car must be insured, you must be 21 years of age or older, have no criminal record, and have a minimum of one year driving experience.
In this regard, it’s easy to get started with Uber. You’ll be required to have a four-door car that has a clean title, and is in good condition. Advertising signs are not allowed on vehicles. Unlike taxi drivers, who pay hundreds of dollars in monthly fees to the taxi companies they work for, Uber drivers are spared these fees. This is one reason people like driving for Uber.
Can You Make Money Driving For Uber?
How much you make will depend on which ride-sharing option your riders choose, the time of day, and where you are located. Obviously, how many hours you work, and the distances you drive will also factor in to how much money you bring home. An UberX fare generally costs about $1.50. The average hourly rate driving for Uber could be around 14 dollars an hour if you drive during peak hours: the morning and evening commute hours Monday through Friday, and Friday and Saturday evenings.
If you decide to become an Uber driver, I would suggest making an analytics spreadsheet to track all your expenses, including your miles, times and hours worked, and how much money you brought in. This way you can offset what you made against your expenses, and realistically track your profit. You will most likely come to the conclusion that you’re not making as much money as you originally hoped to.
The only way to know for sure how much you’ll make as a driver, and whether you’ll even enjoy the work, is to try it out and drive for a month. You can then track how much you can earn in your particular city with the number of hours you choose to drive. The times of day you drive will be a key factor as well.
Do a test drive of sorts to determine for sure how much money is possible to make driving with Uber. One workaround for potentially making more money is to lease a car through Uber to take advantage of the unlimited mileage. This would eliminate the worry of vehicle depreciation.
What They Don’t Tell You
Uber drivers are considered independent contractors, rather than direct employees. Because of this, Uber isn’t invested in their drivers, and want to pay the least amount of money possible. Essentially, they care more about their bottom line than yours. The money isn’t as good as Uber leads you to believe. By the time you deduct your expenses from what you made, you’ll be sorely disappointed. And then there’s the wear and tear on your car that is more significant then you anticipated.
Being your own boss has both negatives and positives. You must have the type of personality to keep yourself motivated and disciplined, otherwise, your new-found freedom won’t pay out. I love being my own boss, but I have a fairly disciplined personality, and like having a regular routine.
One advantage you may not initially be aware of is the tax write offs you’ll receive. Uber drivers can write off 54.5 cents for every mile driven. Let’s say you drive 50,000 miles in one year or approximately 1,000 miles a week. You could then write off over 28,00 miles a year.
Pros & Cons
Here’s a bulleted summary of the pros and cons of driving for Uber as outlined above:
- The flexibility is awesome as is the freedom of setting your own schedule
- You are only accountable to yourself
- It’s easy to get started
- You’ll meet some interesting people
- Driving for Uber is a good way to kill time
- The money isn’t as good as Uber makes it out to be
- The wear and tear on your car will be substantial
- You must have the type of disciplined personality to keep yourself motivated and in the game
- Driving can be hard on your body and can get boring day after day
- There is absolutely no future in the ride-sharing business
- Uber is not invested in your future
Uber, the ultra-popular taxi service available worldwide is an extremely convenient service. Wait times are under 5 minutes, and you can book a ride, view ride information, and pay for services all within the handy app. You can also read driver reviews, and choose between several ride-sharing options.
Being on both ends of the driver/passenger equation, I can personally say that being an Uber passenger is much more cost-friendly than being on the driving end. While I initially liked driving for Uber, over time the wear and tear on my car, ultimately didn’t make sense. By the time I factored in my mileage, maintenance and repair costs, the numbers failed to add up.
My bottom line advice is to enjoy Uber’s services as a passenger. However, if the idea of being an independent contractor appeals to you, and you like interacting with a variety of people, drive for Uber for awhile to see how it goes. Go in with your eyes wide open, and with realistic expectations. Uber may be for you if you’re looking to make a little money on the side, rather than a full time living.
Uber could be a good fit for students looking to work during the summer, people between jobs, or anyone looking to fill a few empty hours. My main caution is to not venture into the world of driving thinking you’re going to make a killing. At the end of the day, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. In the long run, you would make more money with internet marketing, which is a long-term venture.
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Have you driven for Uber or know someone who has? Let me know in the comments:)
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